Day 18 – Spiritual Warfare (Part 2)
Effective Prayer Podcast, by Colin Dye
Now in the Old Testament we find many examples of warfare. These examples are usually physical battles, but we know that behind the physical battles, from the Book of Daniel, that there will be spiritual forces operating, and so when you read the Old Testament, see in the Old Testament a pattern for your spiritual warfare, but remember our warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and spiritual forces.
We see a number of principles. First of all, in the Old Testament victory depends upon the right use of God’s authority. In the battle against the Amalekites that Moses and Joshua fought, Moses stood on the mountain lifting up the Word of God, the symbol of authority, and Joshua battled in the valley. And as long as Moses lifted up the rod, Joshua prevailed, but when he grew tired, the Amalekites prevailed. And so they had to hold the hands of Moses up. Right use of authority in prayer.
We also see that victory depends upon unity. Aaron, Hur and Joshua and Moses were all working together in the battle, and so we see time and time again that the outcome of victory depends upon our unity. That is why the devil wants to destroy unity in a family; that’s why the devil wants to destroy unity in a church; in a nation, so he can divide that nation; amongst the Body of Christ so that he can come in with his stuff. but if we stand together in a united way the devil cannot stand against us.
And we see that victory depends upon breakthrough. Here we have the story in 1 Chronicles 14 of King David fighting against the Philistines. You can read this account for yourself. As David persists and goes on until finally he breaks through and he says, “God has broken through.”
Let’s look at that. First Chronicles 14, 1 Chronicles 14, he inquires of the Lord and he defeated them at Baal Perazim. Verse 11, “So they went up to Baal Perazim and David defeated them there. Then David said, “God has broken through my enemies by my hand like a breakthrough of water.” And so the breakthrough comes as we submit to God and God gives us the ability. He strengthens our hand, we break through with the help of God, God uses us in spiritual warfare to see that breakthrough. Hallelujah.
And then David has a further victory which completely destroys the enemy and drives the enemy back. That means that we shouldn’t stop until we see the victory complete and Satan driven right back and the power and kingdom of God come. Then of course the outcome of this is victory; it can only be victory. It can only be victory.
In Exodus 17 it says hands were lifted up to the throne of God. That could be a reference, again, to Moses lifting up the rod, or it could mean the people who were fighting against God, the Amalekites, shaking a fist at God. Either way, it could be the rebellion of the Amalekites or the prayer of intercession, but what we do know is that when there is rebelling against the Word of God and demonic forces are opposing what God has done. All we have to do is to lift up our hands and enforce the victory. The devil cannot stop what God has finished. The victory is complete. But we are called to administer that victory and to enforce the triumphant victory of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s a powerful thing.
Now we do need to know that while the enemy is defeated there is still a period of time in which he is active before that victory of Christ is fully implemented. So Christ has won the victory, but our job is to enforce that victory. That’s why we need the spiritual armor. I want to go through the spiritual armor with you now.
Have a look at Ephesians chapter 6 again. Verse eleven, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Now here the Apostle Paul was in prison as he wrote, and in the Roman imprisonment he had relative freedom—people could come and visit him—but he had to be chained to a Roman soldier and they changed guards every two or four hours, whatever it was, and that was one of the ways in which Paul evangelized the Praetorian guard and the whole of Caesar’s palace. They were evangelized because these soldiers—I wonder who was the real prisoner, frankly, as the Apostle Paul preached the gospel. “Hi, Bro, good to see you. Here is my leg. Now as we’re chained together for the next two or three hours I’d like to tell you my story. My name is Paul. I am an apostle. I was called by Jesus Christ, not by man, because I had a vision of Jesus on the Damascus road, and I’m here in fulfillment of that vision because Jesus Christ is Lord. Do you believe that?”
“Isn’t Caesar Lord?”
“Oh no, we’re not talking about earthly rulers, we’re talking about the King of Kings, my friend, the King of Kings and the Lord of lords, the Ruler of rulers, the Champion of champions, the Conqueror of conquerors. This is how Paul would have preached, and that man would have been driven crazy.
Another advantage of prison is that Paul had the opportunity to catch up on his correspondence, and so while he is writing and the Roman soldier goes to sleep for a bit of peace, snoring away, Paul looks at him and this is what he sees: he sees the Roman soldier dressed in all his Roman uniform. Think, perhaps, of a centurion, that beautiful red royal robe or that red centurion’s robe, that beautiful plumage, that marvelous, shining, breastplate armor. There he is, and Paul says, “This is exactly like the armor of God,” and he describes this armor, spiritually, bit-by-bit, and every bit of this armor represents a spiritual truth, and so he says, “Put on the whole armor of God.”
I want to say a few things before we look at each item of the armor bit-by-bit. First of all, put on the whole armor of God. This is a package. It’s an entire uniform. You can’t just take one bit and leave the rest. It’s all or nothing. Put it all on.
Secondly, the tense used in the Greek means that you put it on once for all. Now a lot of people reduce this to a kind of mind act. Every morning we get out of bed, we put the armor on. Don’t take it off! Go to bed—you need the armor in bed. The devil will come with his deceiving thoughts and he will try to harm you in your sleep. You keep the armor on. Don’t ever take it off.
Now of course when he says to put it on, what we need to do is to walk in the armor, we need to live in the armor. We put it on when we got saved, but we need to live in the armor, we need to use it, exercise each one of these principles and every time of the spiritual armor is a spiritual principle that we must walk in.
First of all, the belt of truth. Now the belt of truth here is, in many ways, the most important part of the armor, because it was hidden from the rest. You couldn’t see it unless virtually all you had was the tunic and there you can see the belt, and under the belt was attached the lance, the spear. Onto the belt was attached the scabbard where the sword came, and all of the armor was put onto the belt and the belt of truth kept all the armor in place. If you didn’t have the belt, then everything would just…all the armor would flap around and there was just nothing there that you could do.
So it’s a very important piece of armor, so he starts with this. It’s hidden from view. Why? Because God desires truth in the inner parts. And if somebody is belted up, they are ready to go. When we put on our seatbelts, we are ready to go. Fasten your safety belts, we’re off! And it’s the same thing. When you put that belt on, you are saying, “I’m ready for action. I am girding my loins with truth. I am ready for action. My mind is set for the battle. I am ready to fight.”
Now the word for “truth” here is aletheia, which means “truth contrasted with error.” Truth contrasted with error. You put on the belt of truth, and you reject the error. It’s important to disbelieve, just as it is important to believe. You just must make sure that you are believing the right things and disbelieving the right things.
In other words, let me give you a clue: What the devil says, don’t believe. What God says, believe it. The devil is a liar, but God is the God of truth. So what this means is rejecting lies, rejecting the errors and the half-truths and the untruths, reject those things and live in the Word of God and take that Word of God into the inner person. There, the truth in the inner parts.
Now we come on to the breastplate—the breastplate of righteousness. There it is, this beautiful breastplate. It was made either of metal, molded to fit the soldier’s neck and torso, or in some cases was made in linen covered with protective strips of animal horn. But it gave vital protection—just have a look—vital protection to the neck, to the organs of the body, the vital organs of the body, each and every one of the vital organs—the heart, the liver, the kidneys—every part. Vital organs. All of these were covered by this breastplate of righteousness. Even the jugular vein, in some of these breastplates, was covered so the neck was covered.
Now the back had little protection, ensuring that no Roman soldier would ever turn ‘round and run. But when we stand our ground we are victorious. So the only way the devil can harm you is if you run away, but if you stand there and say, “I’m going to stand. I’m having my loins girded with the belt of truth. I’ve got the breastplate of righteousness on. You can’t deal with…you can’t touch me. I am protected.” This is an important principle, because we need to protect the vital organs of our spiritual life. Our heart, the heart, the heart, the heart, our motives must always be protected by the righteousness of Christ. We must understand, friends, that our motives are everything in the spiritual life, and if we don’t live with right motives, no matter how much we say that it is right, no matter how much we do that is good, it is still opening us up to the accusation and the difficulty of the enemy.
Now what is our protection? Why, it’s the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The breastplate of righteousness. He covers all our sins. And it’s that right relationship we have with him as we walk out that righteousness in our daily practice, as we live righteous lives, then we can defeat the devil, but the moment, the moment we give in to sin, we become subject to Satan’s attacks, and that’s one of the most important things to remember.
Now the next item in this armor are shoes. Now you didn’t know that shoes…shoes were armor, did you? Well, you should take a look at those shoes. Here we have them. They were sandals, thick-soled, strapped up to the knees, and they had greeds on them which are a bit like shin pads, a bit like shin pads to keep that part of the body protected, and in many cases these shoes were like hob-nailed boots. Sometimes they had spikes on them. They were killer shoes. No doubt about it. Killer shoes.
When we think of shoes today, different shoes designed for different purposes—running shoes, walking shoes, different kinds of shoes with special designs in order to equip you for the purpose of the design. And God has given you killer shoes. What are these? Shoes of the gospel of peace. You’re talking about killing and peace in the same breath? Yes. Hallelujah. Because as we trample on the works of Satan, we spread the gospel of Jesus Christ’s peace.
The Savior, the Prince of Peace comes through the proclamation of the gospel, and he says you must always be ready with these shoes on. if the enemy attacked and the Roman soldier didn’t have his shoes on, he couldn’t fight. These shoes gave him strength and stability. He could make a strong stand in the rough terrain, he could run across rough ground, climb over rocky ground, wade through boggy ground. There was nothing that could stop him when he had these shoes on. In fact, I would rather like a pair myself. Well, we’ve got ‘em in the Spirit. We have exactly that right spiritual footwear to keep us spiritually sure-footed in every situation. The devil cannot run from us when we wear the shoes of peace.
And then we have the shield of faith. The shield of faith. Here it is: the big shield. There are actually two shields that they have—the small, round shield that they have to fight off blows, then a big shield that looks a bit like a big, wooden door, and often it was covered with leather, soaked in pitch…or soaked in water so that when the enemy would fire arrows, burning arrows which were bathed in pitch and set on fire, then the water would extinguish them. Sometimes the enemy, in ancient warfare, they would bore a hole out into an error, make it hollow, and put chemicals in there, and when that arrow hit anything, it would explode and there would be a mini explosion, which would bring the fire and so these shields were designed to protect from those fiery darts.
And the enemy will want to fire fiery darts at you, but when you lift up your shield of faith, it will protect you, and if you stand next to your brothers and sisters as the Romans soldiers did, you would protect the whole army. In fact, they could box themselves in. When a heavy barrage of arrows or spears would come, they would just stand next to each other and build a kind of box in three dimensions, cover their heads, cover their sides, and that’s how we should be in the Body of Christ. When the slings and arrows of the enemy’s activities reach the Body of Christ and somebody gets hurt, we need to cover them with the shield of faith, not accuse them, not tear them down, but box them in and protect them. We need to take care of one another with the shield of faith. It’s not just to keep yourself safe; it’s to help the rest in the Body of Christ.
Then we have the helmet of salvation. Now these Roman helmets were made of strong leather covered with metal, or the leather covered the metal or the cast metal was there by itself, and these helmets were so strong that they could withstand the blows even of the great big Roman broadsword that had to be wielded with two hands. And it is the helmet of hope, the helmet of salvation, the hope of our salvation. God gives us protection from the enemy’s discouragement and the enemy’s work in our minds. What wonderful protection there is.
And the final piece of armor mentioned here is the sword of the Spirit. As I said, there were two kinds of swords—the large, Roman broadsword which needed two hands to wield, very clumsy, not that deadly because people could dodge it and the armor protect it, but the dagger, the short sword, this Roman short sword, sharp as a razor, and if you were stabbed by a Roman soldier, they could find some way in somewhere and you would be sure to die, they were so clear and precise in the use of this. They were like surgeons in the ancient world, so precise in how they use that.
That’s the rhema Word of God, my friends. When God gives you a special word that you draw out of the belt of truth, it becomes the sword of the Spirit, that special word which goes precisely to the mark, that destroys exactly what needs to be destroyed. It is a precision instrument, and that’s how God wants us to work against the enemy, to go exactly where the enemy is entering in and deal with surgical precision with everything the enemy is doing and rooting it out and giving Jesus all the glory.
Now we see all of that is the true purpose of the armor. What for? To fight against the enemy, but how? He goes on in verse 18 of Ephesians 6 to say—still part of the same sentence, still in the same breath—putting on all this armor, verse 18, and “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
So what is the armor for? It is so that you will be able to pray. It is to prepare you to pray. That’s what the armor is for, is it equip you for your prayer life. And there is so much more that you can find on this teaching, and I want you to take that teaching and develop it and understand that the armor is there for prayer.
In fact, there is almost—some scholars suggest that in this mention of prayer he is talking about another piece of armor. That’s the Roman lance, that spear which the Roman soldiers carried. Paul doesn’t mention it specifically, but it does fit the pattern very well. That spear is like the lance that wants its release from the hand of the person who prays, it’s like the prayer that finds its target. The whole purpose of this is that we should be skilled and effective in the prayer life.
And now let’s summarize all that we’ve been saying as we bring this session to a close by looking at the principles of warfare praying in the Bible. Well, we see in so many ways that warfare praying is biblical and we haven’t got too involved with confronting demons. I think we need to be lead very carefully by the Holy Spirit, and so here are, in conclusion, five stages or principles of warfare praying:
Number #1, knowing the will of God. There is no way that you can speak to a mountain, uproot a tree, deal with anything demonic or anything that is an obstacle standing in your way of the smooth running of the kingdom of God; you can’t deal with that unless you know God’s will, because God’s will is all about…God’s kingdom is all about God’s will. “Let Your kingdom come, let Your will be done.” Kingdom come, will be done. Kingdom come, will be done. Kingdom come, will be done. God’s will is done, God’s kingdom comes. God’s kingdom comes, God will is done.
So if you’re going to be involved in warfare praying, you must wait for an understanding of God’s will in any situation so that you may know from the Holy Spirit that what you are meeting is a mountain that God wants you to remove. You don’t go fighting unless that is a clear revelation of God.
Secondly, an authoritative order. Jesus said, “Whoever speaks to this mountain.” He didn’t say, “Whoever prays to Me in warfare praying. You speak. You declare: Mountain, be moved.” That’s an authoritative order. We need to understand it’s very similar to the paga praying as we saw in the Old Testament terms on intercession, and we need to know what it is to issue authoritative commands, just as Jesus rebuked the winds and the waves: “Be still.” There was a demonic storm that was whipped up at that time, and Jesus spoke a word of command. He says, “Now where is your faith? Where is your faith?” In other words, you go and do the same thing. So you need to know how to move in authoritative commands.
Number #3, you know how to receive and move in God’s faith. In the Sword of the Spirit sessions that we’re going to be coming to on faith we’ll deal with this in detail, but we need to receive God’s faith. What is God’s faith? God’s faith is the kind of faith that once it is spoken, it happens, and God has absolute confidence in His own Word, and we must have the same confidence in God’s Word.
You can have the same confidence in God’s Word that God has in His own Word. That’s God’s faith. In Mark 11:24, “have the faith of God,” which is the literal understanding of that. Then we need to know, number #4, that this must come through sustained speaking. In Mark 11 the Greek tense means to go on commanding, “be removed,” and you keep on commanding until it happens. Sustained speaking in warfare praying. Don’t give up, even though you don’t see any change. You keep on and keep on praying and declaring and commanding and it will happen.
So we come to number #5, we have to have the visible result. Jesus said it will be done. The mountain will move. The tree will obey you. The situation, the circumstance will be transformed. There will be a visible result; no doubt about it. God will get the job done as you take your position in the heavenly realms and move in warfare praying.